Georgia Gov. Kemp Gets GOP Group’s Support As He Faces Trump-backed Primary Challenge

Georgia Gov. Kemp gets GOP group’s support as he faces Trump-backed primary challenge

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The lead group dedicated to electing and reelecting Republican governors is taking an unprecedented step as it launches a major ad blitz in Georgia to support conservative Gov. Brian Kemp, who’s facing a serious primary challenge as he runs for reelection this year.

The Republican Governors Association (RGA0 on Wednesday announced that it’s spending over half a million dollars to run an ad statewide in Georgia that spotlights Kemp’s record on the economy and border security. But the spot doesn’t mention the governor’s top Republican primary challenger, former Sen. David Perdue, who’s been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

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And while the RGA typically spends money on behalf of GOP incumbents in general elections, this is the first time the organization is financing an ad to support a sitting governor facing a Republican primary challenge.

“Under Joe Biden: out of control spending, skyrocketing inflation, an invasion on the southern border. But Georgia has a proven conservative leader fighting back: Governor Brian Kemp,” says the narrator in the RGA Georgia 2022 PAC spot.

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“Kemp cut taxes, creating one of America’s fastest-growing economies and good-paying jobs. And Governor Kemp sent the National Guard to the border to help stop the illegal drugs flooding into our communities. Governor Brian Kemp – delivering for Georgia,” the narrator emphasizes.

Four years ago, with the support of Trump, Kemp narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams to win the governorship.

Republican Gov.  Brian Kemp of Georgia formally launches his 2022 reelection campaign at a kick-off event in Perry, Georgia, on July 10, 2021

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia formally launches his 2022 reelection campaign at a kick-off event in Perry, Georgia, on July 10, 2021
(Brian Kemp 2022 reelection campaign)

But the governor earned Trump’s ire starting in late 2020, after he certified now-President Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia in the presidential election, following two recounts of the vote. Trump, who had unsuccessfully urged Kemp and other top Republican officials in the state to overturn the results, has repeatedly vowed to return to Georgia to campaign against Kemp. Trump for months urged Perdue to primary challenge the governor, and late last year he endorsed Perdue a day after the former senator launched his bid.

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Perdue’s move sets up an epic GOP primary battle with Kemp in a one-time solidly red state that’s becoming a top general election battleground. Kemp’s also facing primary challenges from a lesser-known candidate.

Last week, Trump took aim at Kemp in the Perdue campaign’s first TV commercial.

“David Perdue is an outstanding man. He’s tough. He’s smart. He has my complete and total endorsement,” Trump says to the camera in the spot, which is also running statewide on TV.

Perdue was first elected to the Senate in 2014 but was defeated in his bid for a second term by a razor-thin margin by Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s twin Jan. 5, 2021, runoff elections. Democrat Raphael Warnock edged Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the other contest, handing the Democrats the Senate majority.

Former US senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue greets supporters at a campaign event on Feb.  1, 2022, in Dalton, Georgia.

Former US senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue greets supporters at a campaign event on Feb. 1, 2022, in Dalton, Georgia.
(Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images)

Kemp has built a formidable war chest as he runs for re-election. As first reported by Gadget Clock a month ago, the governor hauled in over $ 7 million during the second half of 2021 and started the new year with over $ 12 million cash on hand. Perdue announced earlier this week that he brought in slightly over $ 1 million in the first two months of his campaign.

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A recent poll in the Georgia GOP gubernatorial primary indicated Kemp holds a single-digit edge with four months to go until the May 24 primary.

Perdue campaign adviser Austin Chambers, responding to the new ad, claimed on Twitter that the “RGA having to go up shows how weak Kemp is right now. This ad buy won’t change that.”

The winner of the GOP gubernatorial primary will face off in November with Abrams. The voting rights organizer, former state Democratic legislative leader, and rising national star in her party launched her second straight run for governor a week before Perdue jumped into the race. Abrams raked in over $ 9 million in the first two months of her campaign.

Reveling in the GOP infighting, Democratic Governors Association deputy communications director Sam Newton said that “the RGA is now all-in on fighting with Donald Trump in Georgia – and there’s no going back.”

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